New head of NYC schools answers PIX11 viewer questions, shows off his musical side

NEW YORK CITY — After just two weeks on the job as the new head of NYC schools, Chancellor Richard Carranza on Friday answered PIX11 viewer questions about his plans for the nation's largest school district, and showed off his artsy side.

Taking on NYC Public Schools is a huge task — Carranza will oversee 1.1 million students, more than 1,800 schools and about 135,000 employees at the nation's largest school district.

The Arizona-born chancellor's credentials include a masters in education; work at four school districts, including Houston during last year's Hurricane Harvey disaster; and he speaks both Spanish and English — a key during Mayor Bill de Blasio's search for replacing Carmen Fariña, the departing chancellor.

His goals for NYC at large include providing a high-quality education for "every student, in every borough and neighborhood," — and hopefully the ability to be multilingual.

“Many of those characteristics … are already on display right here in New York City — one of the most diverse cities in the world, largest city in America. So it’s just an exciting place to be a student,” Carranza said.

As he works to get more specific on his goals for the city, he said he is being briefed 24/7 on the organization's past so he can better inform its future.

The most common complaints and concerns he's been alerted to by students, unsurprisingly, is the quality of food provided at schools. From parents? Safety.

"Across the board from parents, and it may be contextual within the national situation, but people are worried about school safety, and they just want to be reassured — what are the safety measures, how are we looking at this?”

PIX11 also asked viewers what is on their minds.

Instagram user cjones_0420 asked: “Will you be getting rid of common core?”

Carranza responded, in short, “that process is driven by the state of New York and the regions, and we’ll have a big voice in that.”

Instagram user topnotch_tima asked: "Are we going to get more after-school programs and tutoring for kids who need extra help?"

Carranza said he has the support of the mayor, who believes "education is one of the fundamental planks of the city’s platform for improving life for all New Yorkers."

The chancellor will also aim to make sure students have strong academic programs, but will also look to the arts and community organizations to add to before- and after-school opportunities.

"You’re going to see lots of conversations at the school-site level about what we’re trying to do to differentiate but enrich the experiences for our students,” Carranza replied.

The arts are clearly important to the new chancellor, who is himself a mariachi player always ready to show off his skills.

“If I get invited to sing? Chances are I’m gonna to sing. If I get invited to play, chances are I’m gonna play. If I don’t get invited to sing or play, chances are I’m gonna sing and play. It’s who I am.”